Photo Courtesy : Salem_Beliegraphy


“You are still poor. Why did you come back now? Today precisely?! Just when I was leaving to UK?! Do you know what it meant to me? That scholarship?!” He snapped.

“Please forgive me my son. I came back so that I can see you, see how you’ve grown and…apologize to both you and your mum. I have countable days remaining…”

Rashid staggered out of the hut. His mum was standing there, her forehead formed lines and her eyes were squinted. She was nervously playing with her hands as if it was her judgement day. Rashid looked at her for a while before pulling a stool from the side of the hut and made his mum sit down. There was a moment of dead silence. Then he started;

“How…” he looked at her in the eyes, “how did you survive after he left?”

She sighed loudly.

“Mwanangu (my son)…You know what they say? That when you truly love someone you let them go. You let them be happy…but it’s a lie. It means making a tough choice; a selfish one. It’s either they remain happy and you don’t, or you stay happy and they don’t. It’s a sacrifice no one wants to make especially when another woman is involved…and letting him go cost us our happiness. ..” Darkness had filled the compound and all that could be heard were random voices here and there from the neighbours. Rashid could see the tears forming in his mother’s eyes. He held her hand tightly and nodded at her to go on.

“For many years after your father left, I neglected my entire life. I neglected myself. I neglected you…I neglected you Rashid. I gave up on life. I was like a dead woman walking. Like a miserable zombie. I never worked and we survived on the money that your father left behind but also that came to an end. We had rent arrears and debts from shops. We had to shift here. We were too poor, too messed up. You grew up like an orphan child yet you had your mother with you,” she rised her hand and touched his face.

Rashid swallowed a bitter lump of bile that was now on his lips. How could he forget all those days he would beg his mum to take him to school and those nights he would cry out of fear yet she would turn on her bed like she was suddenly deaf. He would push her body back and forth vigorously calling out ‘mama’…all in vain.

“Perhaps you don’t remember everything…but came the day when I carelessly left hot ashes outside the house without warning you and you stepped on them. I still remember your shriek. It was like a wake up call for me. It was a reminder that I had a son. That I had a gift from God. That I had something worth living my life for….”

“Everything changed after that incident,” she gave him a weak smile. “Your feet were horribly burnt and you couldn’t walk for almost one month. I decided to re-start again. It was not too late. It never is. I got a job in the market to help a friend sell her vegetables while she went on with her other businesses. I took you to school and we had a new life altogether. It wasn’t the best kind of life but it was the best I could offer. I worked as a tailor after that, then a house maid, then sold viazi karai (fried potatoes), mahamri and mbaazi. After that I worked as a mchoraji wa piko na henna (henna tattoing) and finally was able to get my own kibanda (small stall)….You know it all from there…”

Rashid leaned forward and hugged her quickly, picked up his bag before disappearing out of the compound without a word. He stopped by a palm tree and leaned on it to support his weak knees. His eyes were wet when he heard some footsteps coming towards him. He quickly rubbed his eyes with his arms and disappeared once again. He didn’t come back until the next day.


Rashid walked into their home compound just to see his mother in the arms of their neighbour mama Fatuma. They were vividly in tears. He fastened his steps as his breathe got heavy.  They both turned around, their eyes red and tired.

“Rashid!!” Mama Fatuma said loudly, her eyes suddenly popped out like she had just seen a ghost.

“Mama…what happened?!” He said as his heart beat furiously…”did something happen to…dad?”

Rashid’s mother rushed into his arms and cried on his broad chest.

“We thought…I thought…you are gone…You have never slept outside before and you took your bag with you.”

“Rashid! I am so relieved you are back! We thought you had gone after the bus to go to UK…the bus crashed last night,” mama Fatuma said.

Rashid swallowed a rather huge lump of saliva.

“The bus crashed?!”

“Yes…we heard it on the radio this morning.  16 passengers passed away and the rest are all injured.”

“Whoa! That was a close shave!” He exclaimed as he stood still in his place; pertubed.

“Nyamaza kulia sasa mama Rashid (Stop crying now mama Rashid)…haven’t you already seen your son? He is fine Alhamdulilah,” mama Fatuma said as she dabbed her eyes with her leso and blew her nose loudly.

” I was at a friend’s place mum. I just needed…”

“It’s okay…I’m just grateful to have you back. Oh Rashid how would I live without you?!”

Rashid patted her back and led her inside the hut. She needed some rest.


Four days after, Rashid’s father passed on. Rashid sat next to his silently weeping mother throughout the funeral. He didn’t cry. Not a single tear. At least not for someone whom he considered a stranger. But there was that irresistible heart ache that was banging on his chest. Whatever the case, the deceased was still his father. Whether he liked the fact or not, he had to deal with it.

Right after burying him, an old limping man came towards him. He was leaning on his bakora as he took small but rather quick steps. His head was entirely grey which immediately gave Rashid the instinct that he could be one of his father’s associates.

“Assalam aleikum.  You must be Rashid right?”

Rashid looked at him in puzzlement before replying the greeting and saying yes.

“You have really grown my son mashallah…” he said as he gave him a broad smile.

“Pardon, I haven’t recognized you.”

“You can’t remember me. You were too young. Come, come my son. I have a message from your late father.” He led him into a more silent corner and they sat on large rocks. They were quiet for a moment, staring at the scattered bushes and green grass around.

“I couldn’t risk waiting any longer to talk to you. I am very old and my grave is calling me.” The old man smiled weakly. Rashid never said a word.

“My son,  once upon a time I was your father’s lawyer. I was in charge of all his dealings and his wealth. Those days your father had started building his own empire and your mother had his back always…well, that was until when Salma, his second wife appeared in his life. I believe you know about her by now?”

Rashid nodded.

“I’ll just try to cut this story short. After Salma left with all his wealth, what she didn’t know is that he had an offshore secret bank account. There was no much money in it but it was enough to make him live comfortably for a few more months or perhaps a year. But he decided that that money should be kept for you as a gift from him.”

“Strange…Why didn’t he mention that to me when we talked?”

“Because he didn’t want you to think he is buying you back. He just needed you and your mother to forgive him.”

Rashid was silent.

“Here,” the old man handed him the parcel. “This is exactly 500,000 shillings and God knows I didn’t deduct or add a single penny on it.”



Rashid’s mouth was agape. He had never touched even a quarter of that amount.

“But why? He died so poor…he sold all his property to survive. Why didn’t he use this?”

“Because he regretted what he did to the only woman who sacrificed her entire life for his sake and to you…his only son. He cleared all his debts before he died and doesn’t have much left remaining, just a few clothes, shoes and such…but I will surely come to your home and deliver what is rightfully for you and your mother.”

Rashid was speechless. He stared once again at the horizon then at the skies. Perhaps trying to understand what was happening to his life.

“Son, I have done what was upon me…goodbye” he patted Rashid’s shoulder and started walking away.

“Excuse me…what is your name uncle?”

“Ibrahim…” he smiled again then continued, “I was not just your father’s lawyer,  he was my childhood friend and a brother to me. Perhaps you doubt this but your father…he was a kind man; a good man. He may have made his mistakes in his youth but he really loved you, and worried about you throughout.”

“Why didn’t he ever search for me then?”

“Because he was ashamed…I hope you find it in you to forgive him. Take care of yourself son. Meet you soon in shaa Allah. ”


Rashid watched the old man limp away. He looked at the parcel in his hand and sighed loudly.

“Oh God!” He thought to himself.

He recounted all the recent events in his life; mum’s phone call, his father, the lost scholarship, the bus crash, his father’s death and then this…He could have died in the bus crash. He wouldn’t have met his father. He wouldn’t have known the truth. He would have left his mother alone. He wouldn’t have gotten this fortune. He sighed again. His mother would be shocked about the money…but this would help them greatly.  Perhaps start his own business, work while he pays his own college fees. It is better to stay around with his mother. He needed her more than anything. For once, he remembered to thank God for the cancelled trip to UK. For sure better things were yet to come.

“Truly fate is full of surprises. ..” Rashid said to himself as he walked back home. He had a lot to tell her.





Photo Courtesy: http://productivemuslim.com

It is these times that Muslims are giving in charity abundantly,humanity levels are at the peak. Kindness is probably an understatement and you could be awed at how everyone is going an extra mile to help those in need. This is one of my favourite times. It is indeed the last ten days of Ramadhan.

People differ in how they offer the sadaqa and zakat but of late, some Muslims have made it a trend to make a call-out that they will be giving zakat/sadaqa on a certain day. On these days, you would see women huddled with their children and men, old and young standing outside the premises awaiting the ‘promised package’. They would wait as long as it takes, so long as they get the flour,oil, sugar and other necessities. People are hungry, they would do anything to get that package. People are jobless, they would do anything to get something to feed their families. You see the queues of people waiting and you know how much people are desperately in need. Some would say, Kenyans just like whatever is free whatever it may cost them. Quite true but nonetheless we can never totally disagree that majority are genuinely poor. It is quite a heart breaking sight when you see them standing, seated, squatting under the scorching sun, some with crying babies and tired children waiting for the 500, 1000 shillings or the package. But have we ever kept ourselves in their shoes?

I have never really known whether what is being given is sadaqa or zakat. Whether it is announced that people should come or leakage of information that leads those crowds of people to the premises. Whatever the case, the method used in sharing this zakat or even if it is sadaqa is quite depressing. If the people responsible in giving the sadaqa/zakat are not the ones who called out for people to come over then there must be leakage of information on their plans and thus the queues of people. Because people just can’t walk miles and miles in crowds or queues if they didn’t hear the grapevine and the rumours that this person at this place will be giving out this and that. Or perhaps it is just a bad trend amongst the people to crowd themselves up? Allahu a3lam.

I’m just assuming the rich are the ones who give information on such plans or they have made the poor get accustomed to such sadaqa traditions over the years and thus the automated numbers of people appearing at the same place year in year out. If it is indeed so, then a lot has to be considered.

This woman with her child or this old man is probably coming from South Coast or Kilifi or even farther areas like Changamwe. Most probably he/she came by foot because they are not about to waste money for fare. We all know how our heat is here in Mombasa. And even if it is any other place, the distances these people walk is not a joke honestly. They come and find the ‘earlier birds’ have already arrived. It’s a huge crowd already. He thought he was early but in this case, it is first come first serve. Survival is for the fittest. He might spend the entire day roaming around the place waiting for the package. This man might have wasted a whole day of work where he would have probably earned 1500 shillings while you give them only 1000. Even if he was going to get the EXACT amount or even more from you, he wouldn’t be humiliated in such a way.

Many people take these things really for granted but please think about it. When you call out to people that you will be giving out sadaqa and people; very poor people desperately come to your place, not knowing the exact time or anything. They ‘just heard’ you will be giving out something, and ‘something’ is such a great deal for them. Have you really thought about the struggle they go through to get to your place? Waiting for hours? With all this heat and tired children on their backs?

You know, we keep saying we want jannah. We want to be in the same jannah like Umar ibn Khattab and Hamza and Fatima Azahra and Aisha Radhiya Llahu 3anhum. We want to be in the same heaven with the prophet and with people who were killed for Islam, with people who sacrificed their entire wealth Fi sabiliLlah. With people who used to take sadaqa to the doorsteps of the poor. With people who fought with the prophet peace be upon him. How by God? How do we expect to be in the same jannah with them while we humiliate people? When we make people make queues to get what is their haq from you? Even if not intentionally, aren’t you supposed to do unto others what you would prefer for yourself? How do we even dream of being in the same jannah with the sahabas and prophets??!

Let us not try to justify ourselves. If we can afford to give zakah to a random number every year then we can very well afford to actually go to South Coast, work along with the local imams in giving out to those who are really needy and just lazy beggars. And even if one is sick or unable to get there himself then he can probably afford to hire reliable people to do it on his behalf.

We keep forgetting that every single step we take towards these poor people the more the rewards for us. It is not a must that you feed 1000 people for you to feel satisfied with your sadaqa or zakat. You can as well do big projects for ten people such that they don’t have to come to you again the next year. If we REALLY want jannah then we must go out of our comfort zone. We must work hard and feel the pain of people. What we give in queues does not mean is any less valuable. No that’s not what I am saying. It does not mean that I am not aware of the bad begging habits in our Coast and Kenya in general. It does not mean I am underestimating anyone’s approach of giving sadaqa and zakat. God knows I am not being judgemental here and may He forgive me if i’m making wrong assumptions..all I meant to say is; please when giving out what you have remember that these people are human beings like you. Don’t just take their desperation to your advantage and let them struggle to get what you had in store for them. Put yourself in their shoes. Do unto them what you would have wanted if you were in their place. Not meaning to step on anyone’s toes; Allahu a3laam.

First step: Download the above photo.
Second step: Zoom the photo as much as you can.
Third step: Look at it keenly.

Do you see what I see? This is real. This is our real world.

You know what they usually say? You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry. You can never fathom hunger if you don’t know what it means to stay for two/three consecutive days without a drop of water or a piece of bread. You can never know what it feels like to have your stomach pinching you tightly like it’s about to excrete all your intestines. You can never really understand the value of the food on your plate until the day you probably get lost in a desert and all your water and food runs out.

A few days ago someone was telling me about a child in Samburu who was starving to the extent that his heartbeat rate was so low, people thought he is already dead. Can you imagine how many days this child could have stayed hungry? We fast for 12 hours and the speed at which we want to gulp everything down when we break the fast is supersonic. We want everything our hands can get to. We eat until we can barely breath anymore. Imagine this kind of ‘mini-hunger’ that we experience then triple that; that is what they go through DAILY. And mind you, it could be four/five, infinite times more.

Right now Israel has cut-off the water supply for the Palestinians in West Bank. This is not the first time, not the second and definitely not the last. So many in this same world that we live in stay for days without tasting even the tasteless, dirty, muddy water. Nothing in liquid form. They walk for very long distances in search of water and food. All they see is the mirage. The illusion of water. They think of water. They dream of water. Think of them, the Syrians, the Yemenis, Indians, our own Kenyans. All these countries either in war or in poverty. This is what they go through every single day.

If you are thinking that I am trying to make you guilty then you are on the right track. I am a victim of my own guilt. When your mother tells you just jokingly that there is no food today you will quickly question, “what do you mean there is no food?!” You will be miserable the entire day and probably the next too. “How dare they not cook food?!” You will whine. You will cry. You will not talk to anyone. Then what do you do when you have the food??

See how we go to eat in hotels and restaurants, touch food here and there then leave two potatoes, some soup and the juice only half empty. We pretend to be the elite class. We don’t want to be considered ‘greedy’ by clearing the whole plate so we leave bits of food here and there. I mean, who wants to be seen as ‘hungry?’ All we want to do is touch the expensive food, leave the plate almost as it first came, pay the bill with a tip because that is what the elite do or ‘should’ do. We have bars of chocolates melting in the fridge for days, half drank juices and lots of junk that ends up in the pit. We cook in extravagance and are quick to throw the food away the next day because ‘we don’t eat left overs’. My friend; if you knew what those left overs mean to starved people you would never leave even a single bit of anything that tastes or even smells like food. Let alone left overs, the rotten food that you wouldn’t give your cat is like wealth to them. When you see how happy they become when they receive food from those who remember them you’d think they just won a lottery.

The struggle is real. Not only here in Kenya but in so many countries. Hunger and poverty is eating people. We need to become really responsible on how we eat, how much we eat and how we use the water that we have in abundance. We need to start thinking of those poor children as thin as our fingers, those very old men and women seated by the fire, watching the empty pot as if food is about to miraculously appear. We have to think of those mothers and fathers who have to face their children once again to say the same thing, “we don’t have anything to eat. Be patient.” How they have to live with two kinds of pain; one of their own struggle and two, the pain of their children. We have to measure what amount to cook and how much water to use. We have to really REALLY try helping those who are hungry when we can. Let us pray sincerely for them and for their children. Let us also pray for all those who dedicate their time, money and energy to buy and provide them with food. These people are our real heroes and the least they deserve from us is prayers; they are doing what most of us have failed to do.

May God give these families the patience and easen it for them. May He protect us from hunger and grant us the hearts to feed others when we can. Ameen…and today, when you go to eat, check how full your plate is. Thank God for it. Share it if it is more than you need. Make a difference in someone’s life.

I always wanted to be a doctor, a pediatrician to be precise. That was my childhood dream and I grew up admiring the white coat and the stethoscope on the neck. I wanted to save lives. I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. But isn’t that what many, if not all of us, grew up dreaming of?

We grew up being fed with the information that being a doctor is being a hero. Being a star more than superman or spiderman. It meant changing the world. We grew up watching series like ER, Grey’s anatomy, Scrubs, The mob doctors, House…and the list is endless… and we knew for sure this is it. This is what I want to become. Well, for me, that was before reality hit me hard and I hard to divorce the science and math world. Even so, I never really stop feeling nostalgic of my childhood dream. I would have had fun playing around with crying babies in the hospital oh without forgetting singing and dancing nursery rhymes lol is that even real? Whom am I kidding? ?

Going back to history when we didn’t have all these pills, machines and vaccines, even then, the herbalists were highly regarded. They were close to the king’s status. They were honoured and considered noble. Therefore it is no big surprise that more than 50% of the parents in the world want their children to be doctors. Doesn’t matter if it is a surgeon, a cardiologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, pharmacist, dermatologist, radiologist, dentist…you name it. So long as we have the ‘st’ at the end of the word then we good to go right?

We will all agree that the job done by doctors is a sacrifice that very few can actually take up to. Working over 24 hours, lacking sleep, operating for almost an entire day, dozing on the benches, missing out A LOT on family events and hanging out with friends…The course itself is too tiresome and going over a long period of time. It takes a lot of hard work, passion, dedication, energy, oh and college money to actually work it through. Perhaps this is exactly why they really deserve to be our heroes. But then the course of things in the medicine world started changing when doctors shifted their focus from the heart to the pocket. Doctors; is it by soul or by the money? This is where we got it all wrong. When our heroes valued the money more than humanity.

I usually wonder sometimes when I see very poor people getting really sick, I wonder, how do they get through to get their medication? Of course God doesn’t neglect anyone. He always brings ways for us during our hard times but apart from that, how do they survive? I mean, seeing a specialist of any kind let’s say neurologist or cardiologist costs one almost four thousand, five thousand, for just an appointment with the doctor. Just to look at his face and hear his golden words. No, don’t get me wrong. Yes, these doctors very well deserve it. It is their hard work. It is their hard earned money but this disqualifies them from being our heroes any longer. And this is how poor people die miserably in their homes because have you ever thought what this four/five…ten thousand is for them? That could be their entire salary. That could be the food plus school fees plus rent plus water for the whole month. That could be a fortune for them. And then that is not all. After that you tell this same person in a something that looks like a clothe because it can’t even be regarded as a clothe. It is similar but it is not. It is rags, they are in torn shoes and have rough sore hands. You tell this same person to make almost four tests which would cost them maybe another two thousand without forgetting the medication that would also cost them another fortune. What are you tying to tell them? Go away? Because of course you are chasing them away with your prices. You are indirectly telling them ‘you deserve to die miserably because you can’t afford to see me’. It is telling them ‘this is not your place to be’.

This is how we see poor souls crowding in Coast general and many other public hospitals desperately trying to get help. Anxiously waiting for the time when doctors would leave their private hospitals to come have a peep at them in the public hospitals. This is how nurses treat them like ‘you ain’t gonna tell me nothing. You are just here by our mercy’and treat them worse than the street dogs. They still come though. What should they do? This is the only place they can find a little bit of humanity left. So they wake up while the world is still dark and quiet, rush to the hospital to be the first in line and then wait and wait and wait for hours before the honourable doctor walks in to serve them. You see the fatigue, the helplessness, the anxiousness, the sickness on their faces all at once. What happened to our heroes?

But I will tell you this, although many doctors became what they became so as to acquire their current bank balance, there are some who continue being legends of our times. There are some who have put humanity at the front before money.

There is a doctor in our neighbourhood who is so kind; so humane that you would just be amazed by his nature. He works with his wife in their private clinic and over the years I saw this doctor not charging a shilling to patients whom he wasn’t able to establish their illnesses. He doesn’t charge the patients before but after. If he couldn’t assist you or if he just asked you to do a few tests he doesn’t charge you for talking to him.
I have seen him treating poor people several times free of charge. He sometimes even gives the medicines free of charge. He treats others on credit when they request so. I have seen him showing utmost kindness to his patients and I swear I am a witness to how much he and his wife prospered over the years. They opened their own maternity clinic which also keeps expanding with time. I have seen how God blessed him and his family. And it makes me think, if we just had a few more private doctors who served their communities whole-heartedly and with humbleness, how then would we have over crowded public hospitals with desperate patients crying their souls out for the pain? I am not saying the government is not to blame for not establishing more and proper medical institutions for the less advantaged communities but let’s accept it; we can always do better when we stand for humanity; when we support and help each other.

If you are a doctor and reading this, this is a challenge for you. Are you really the hero you claimed to be? Are you satisfied and proud by how you have held that title of a ‘doctor’? Are you a doctor by the soul or by the pocket??

Photo Courtesy: http://photoportrays.com/

Being rich is many people’s ambition and everyone is running up and down in search of money. It is what is creating a lot of misery all over the world; the reason for people being declared poor or wealthy. While all the poor are struggling to be wealthy, the wealthy are yearning to be wealthier so when is the end of this race?

What most people have never thought about is the other side of the coin about this issue. Being rich is associated with class but is this what we really want? A rich man is surrounded with cars, factories, huge houses and much more to fancy about. It is the majority’s dream to have their own bungalow, with lots of servants to serve them, a company of their own maybe? Well, as a matter of fact, the rich can’t do without the poor. They heavily depend on them. It is the poor who wash the clothes for them, iron for them, cook, and work for them in their companies and much more. In a sense, the poor are the backbone of the rich!

Apart from all that, let us analyze the lives of these two; a boss and his employee. The boss wakes up in the morning to go for work. It is the end month. His employee has already prepared the breakfast for the family, ironed his clothes for the job and is sweeping around the house. The boss finds a number of bills on his table; the water bill, electricity bill, house rent, company taxes and he has almost ten employees who are waiting for their salary on this particular day. As he leaves for job, he realizes he has to add more petrol to his car. He also has to pay the school fees for his three children who are studying at a private international school. Their mother has been sick for quite a while and she is admitted in a private hospital, he needs to pay the bills too. All these thoughts are in his mind as he drives. He is listing down all what he is required to do mentally. The machinery in the company also needs service. There is also the client he has to meet and pay off a large amount of money to which he was indebted. His company has gone through a loss this time and he needs to work on gaining it back.

The employee on the other hand woke up in total darkness. He took his candle, lit it up and started his preparations for the day. He went to the river, fetched water and took a bath. He goes to his small shamba picks some fruits to eat and walks to his work place or rides a bicycle there. His small mud house doesn’t need rent nor does he need fuel for his bicycle or money to buy food. He goes to work and uses his energy to earn money. The salary he gets goes to the small basic necessities likes clothes, cooking oil and washing soap. His children go to the public school and the demands are less compared to private schools and even if his family gets ill, he would take them to the public hospital. Sometimes he doesn’t even go to hospital. He would just go back to his shamba and pluck some herbs and boil it to use as medicine. His only problem arises when he is totally jobless but on the other hand, he doesn’t have much to think about like the rich.

It is for such reasons that majority of the rich end up being stressed up and depressed most of the times more than the poor. They eat a lot of starch and snacks and oil that makes them unhealthy and ill a lot of times more than the poor. There is a lot more of challenges of being the wealthy of the society. It is for this that we are supposed to appreciate whatever God has bestowed upon us for it is for sure, for our own best.